She wakes before down and stacks her kayak on the car. Once satisfied the boat is securely strapped, she crawls behind the wheel and pulls out onto the road. Ten, fifteen minutes of drive time before a familiar overpass comes into sight. The car slows as she turns into the gravelled parking lot. One other car greets her arrival. Probably an older couple out for a brisk stroll around the preserve. Or perhaps another solo-explorer hiking with the dog who provides company to he who has none.
A yawn stretches across her face. She wonders what possessed her to come here so early.
The kayak splashes as it rolls to the river’s surface. It waits among the rocks while she packs her bag behind the seat and snaps the paddle pieces into place. She removes her shoes and joins them with her pack. With one solid push, she floats away from the bank and lowers herself into the cockpit. The chilled water dribbles down her legs and forms a small puddle by her toes.
Tranquility envelopes her… solitude by circumstance, if not by choice.
Nature’s morning show broadcasts around her as the insects buzz through overgrown vegetation. Ahead, a beaver glides through the gentle water. He spots her and freezes. Were it not for ripples behind him, she could easily mistake him for a boulder. Her kayak floats toward him. She holds the paddle still in her lap, but the rodent scares anyway. With a tail-slapping proclamation, he dives under to the safety of his dam entry.
That dam blocks her path to the lake. Her kayak collides with stacks of woven twigs. The impact threatens to push her back again, but she leaps from the cockpit and drags the boat over the top of the dam. It dips to the other side and she climbs back in.
A breeze embraces her as she paddles out onto the lake. Wide open water, with a border of trees. No hums from motor boats, or cheerful screams from kids playing at the nearby beach. It’s still too dark and early for most. She follows the shoreline for a bit, working against the wind as it challenges her strength.
Naught but the wind rips past her ears. She takes a deep breath of satisfaction, inhaling the crisp air. It fills her lungs with joy. She’s pleased to move at her own pace, rather than race against another.